Milk and other dairy products have long been a common part of our daily diets, but as well as the calcium and other nutrients these foods contain, milk products might just be able to help us ward off drug resistant bacteria.
Recent studies at the Institute for Eye Research have raised hopes that a peptide, a part of the milk protein lactoferrin, can help counter antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria responsible for a range of serious infections.
Thein Zaw Oo, a PhD student at the Institute, presented the findings at the annual Milk Genomics and Human Health Conference, held recently in Sydney.
Results from Thein’s research indicate that the protein enhances the efficacy of several antibiotics used to treat corneal infections resulting from the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a pathogen causing serious disease which has become increasingly resistant to antibiotic therapy.
Thein explains, “The cornea is the outer layer of the eye and infection can lead to serious complications if not treated appropriately, including loss of sight.”
“We are looking at ways to improve the effectiveness of existing antibiotics in combating Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can not only cause serious infections of the eye, but is also a common pathogen causing lung infections associated with cystic fibrosis, as well as urinary tract, respiratory tract, bone, joint and soft-tissue infections.”
“If our research leads to the development of a product that assists the successful treatment of infections resulting from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, then it will be of great benefit to health care.”
Professor Willcox, the Chief Scientific Officer at the Institute, confirmed the importance of these findings, saying: “Our previous epidemiological studies conducted by Professor Fiona Stapleton and other PhD students at the Institute demonstrated that one of the major factors contributing to loss of vision associated with corneal infection was delay in receiving appropriate treatment. The use of this peptide during initial stages of treatment may overcome this problem, by allowing appropriate treatment by antibiotics of resistant bacteria”.